5 Questions With: Christina Disler of Werklab

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March is mindfulness month so in my hunt to find great people to feature, I stumbled across Werklab, a beautiful and mindful co-working space in Vancouver that was founded by Christina Disler. They recently celebrated their 1st anniversary and have already had a very positive impact on the local entrepreneurs and working community here in Vancouver. We had a super enlightening conversation that lasted far longer than I expected so I’m sharing with you today some excerpts from my great chat with Christina, who shares her inspiration for the space and their mindful mission.

1) Can you give us some background on Werklab and how it all started?

My sister, who is an artist (all the artwork in the space is hers!), was living in Amsterdam before and had told me about the world of co-working. A few years ago, I went to an HR conference and found this stat has stood out for me. The stat said that by 2020, 40% of the work force will be freelancers, contractors, temp workers and that the work force will change. It was a statistic that rocked my world because I realized that 2020 wasn’t that far away. It was at the end of 2015 when the idea came up. The stat was becoming more and more real and the fact that we’re in a tech hub and the real estate’s high, I really looked at it from the light of social impact and almost from a light of project instead of a money-making business. I will admit that I come from a privileged position where I loaned money from my dad to do the construction. I’m also not trying to squeeze every penny out of this whereas I think that for a lot of other spaces, it’s hard to have integrity with building community when there’s really high bills to pay. We have a good rent here and at the end of the day, once you pay your membership fee, you’re part of this community, we don’t pinch you for anything else.

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2) How does Werklab work?

Some spaces do daily drop-ins, here we’re completely membership based. You don’t have to be here full-time. You can start off with just 5 days a month and work your way up. It’s hard to build community when you have all these transient workers signing up online for only a day. How do you foster trust, safety and vulnerability when you don’t know who the next person is that is coming in? We also have a vetting system, we interview people before they enter the space to ensure that they align with our culture and what we’re trying to do. We don’t just want someone that’s going to come in and just use it as an office, we want someone who wants to sign on and be a part of this community.

When I opened Werklab, I didn’t study the best co-working spaces, I studied the best places to work. At the end of the day, someone can come up with a fancier place to work at and more gadgets, but what people are here for is an intrinsic value. It reminds me of working at some of the cool companies; they aren’t necessarily paying you the top dollar they’re offering you an experience. What do you feel when you’re coming through the door? What’s the energy like? All those things are important. 

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3) What separates Werklab from other co-working spaces?

We actually don’t call ourselves a co-working space but rather a modern day work club because everything is membership based and we’re a mindful space. We have yoga classes and we hold events. For example, we’ll have someone from a natural cosmetic shop come in or we’ll have lunch and learns on health, etc. At the end of the day, the way we work has totally shifted because of technology, even when you leave here you’re still working in bed. So we’re trying to infuse and offer you things that you wouldn’t maybe have time to go out and do because you have so much work or are working on a big project deadline. We want to bring those things to you.

We have 73 members now and we try to get at least once a week, something going on in the space. We want to bring people together with the more natural human stuff, I want people to have real authentic talk in this space. 

Also, with the design of the space, we wanted to offer different areas for you to move around. People think that only graphic designers or coders, those are the creative people that are not working 9 to 5. But in reality, a lot of people work remote. You don’t have to be an “in your face creative” to be in a space like this because at the end of the day, creativity is in everything we do – it’s in problem solving, it’s thinking outside the box, it’s critical thinking, etc. It doesn’t mean that you need to be the best artist in order to be creative.

A lot of the time when we get stuck on a road block with work, movement – moving into a new part of the space, standing up, meditating on our bean bag, being able to stretch out on the couch or just having a quick chat in the coffee area, can all of a sudden reset you.

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4) Who are the people that have been drawn to the space?

The demographic is a total range. I thought we’d have a lot of people from the neighbourhood because we’re the furthest space East in downtown Vancouver but we have people driving all the way from Kits and all over town to come here, which is pretty special. Right before people start, we send them a questionnaire that has nothing to do with what they do – asking them where they grew up, where they were born, what’s one thing people wouldn’t know about them, etc. So even before people come in for orientation, we try to find links and connection with others in the space so that they already feel like they belong on day 1, even if they don’t know anyone. I really try to make an effort to go around with them and be there to support them. People call this home, it’s funny but true.

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5) A lot of the people in the community seem to really help each other out here in Vancouver, what does it mean to you to be a part of that and how has it helped?

I think the more as a business we become authentic and the more it is aligned with who I am and who I stand for, all of a sudden all these pieces start falling into place and just feels so serendipitous. There’s something really special about people on the west coast, following their crazy independent paths. It can sometimes feel so alone on the journey and can sometimes be really challenging but there’s so much support for Vancouver as a whole. I don’t know if it’s always been that way but that’s how things are shifting. I was talking to another local entrepreneur – Sonia from Woodlot and we were chatting about how expensive Vancouver is, so a lot of people have side hustles to make extra cash on the side. And all of a sudden, those side hustles start doing really well so they run with it. We’re all trying to survive together and there’s a really beautiful energy around this community. 

The past year has been a wild ride. It’s this living and breathing organism that changes shape every day but you just have to be present with it. It has been quite the mindfulness task in itself to let it happen. 

For more info on Werklab, go here.

Chef’s Plate

IMG_6421I love cooking and I love food. Cooking is very meditative for me. It’s one of the only times during the day that I am not in front of a screen and that I devote 100% of my attention to. Cooking also clears my mind and is super relaxing.

That said, having a busy schedule and traveling a lot, it’s sometimes hard to find new and interesting things to cook, let alone have the time to go get all the ingredients for a specific recipe and to make something completely from scratch.

FullSizeRender(1)Rather than resorting to already pre-made meals or takeout, I tried out Chef’s Plate for the first time. How does it work? You pick an item off their menu that you’d like to make and they deliver all the fresh ingredients needed to make it and the recipe straight to your door.

What drew me to Chef’s Plate is that they only provide you with the best and freshest ingredients. They work with local family-run farms so that you cook farm to table style. Additionally, if you’re someone that wants to make a dish with meat, they offer locally raised meat without antibiotics and the fish they offer is sustainably sourced. And added bonus, all of their recipes are balanced and nutritious.

FullSizeRender(3)I was happy to find some vegetarian options available for those wanting to cook without meat.

FullSizeRender(2)FullSizeRender(4)I made the Hand-Pulled Mediterranean Pizza for dinner this week and it was a hit! I came home to a cute box filled with all the ingredients necessary for the recipe. Additionally, the recipe card was very clear, indicated its level of difficulty, the approximate time it would take to make and also the amount of calories per serving. It was quick and simple to make and the outcome was delicious!

FullSizeRender(5)FullSizeRender(6)So if you’re looking for new recipes to make and don’t have quite enough time to get everything yourself, Chef’s Plate has got you covered. Check their website for more information: http://www.chefsplate.com/.

5 Food Discoveries in New York City

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I recently went back to one of my favorite cities – Manhattan! The food culture in NYC is just exquisite so I took it upon myself to check out a bunch of new restaurants while I was in town. Here are 5 places you need to check out on your next trip to NYC!

1) The Butcher’s Daughter – This healthy juice bar and cafe is the best spot for brunch/lunch or just an afternoon snack. This super hype cafe is always packed so don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line just to get a crammed seat in the place. That said, it’ll be well worth your wait. They make everything fresh in-house and offer a delicious selection of juices, soups, salads, sandwiches and more. I went for the avocado toast, which was to-die for! All of their juices are also incredibly well balanced and everything on the menu looked very tasty. The service is super quick so if you’re starving by the time you get a table, at least they’ll get your food served fast. They also have a super cute small patio out front, which is perfect for people watching!

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2) Tartinery – Located in Nolita (they also have two other locations in the city), this little taste of French heaven is the perfect place for dinner. They have the real deal French onion soup, tartines (basically an open faced toast with your choice of delicious toppings – see menu below for examples) and also the legit French recipe for the classic Tarte Tatin, making you feel like you’re in a Parisian or Lyonnais bistro if you just close your eyes for a few seconds. Don’t be surprised if you hear people speaking French while you’re in this joint, it’s a go-to spot amongst French ex-pats.

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3) Narcissa – Located in the East Village and in The Standard Hotel, this restaurant is the home of André Balazs and Michelin-starred chef John Fraser. This farm to table approach features only seasonal, local and organic produce. They cook California style and everything is clean and light yet without ever compromising flavour. It’s higher price point is completely justifiable as all the dishes we had were succulent! My favorite items on the menu: the original carrot fries and the homemade potato gnocchi.

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4) Little Cupcake Bakeshop – Hands down the yummiest place for cupcakes in the city. Everything they make features only fresh and sustainable ingredients, predominantly sourced from local farms in the area. Additionally, all their baking is done in small batches on-site. They don’t add any shortening or preservatives in their cakes and the milk products they use come from grass fed cows, so you can eat these guilt-free! The peanut butter & jelly cupcake and also larger cake immediately caught my eye. It was exceptionally moist, flavorful and delightful! I dream of going back to the bake shop, just to get another one of their cupcakes!!

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5) The Breslin – I’m a big fan of the Ace Hotel. I’ve been to the Ace Hotel’s restaurant in LA before and had the most delicious meal so I had been meaning to try The Breslin after hanging out in their hotel for a couple of days. Their brunch menu is simple but contains some brunch staples with a Breslin twist. I had a freshly made green juice accompanied by a frittata. It seems like their burger is also a very popular item to order on the menu. Their breakfast items are also delicious, their scones and granola are must-haves! Looking forward to going back to taste more items off their menu. (apologies for the less than stellar photo, it’s almost impossible to photograph in this dimly lit restaurant!)

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France, je t’aime! pt 2

When traveling to France, the two things most people have in mind are: shopping and eating! Here were some of my favorite places to shop and stuff my face in Paris, Lyon, Les 2 Alpes and Bretagne from my recent trip to France!

Cool shops

Obviously France is like the shopping mecca of the world, so these are some of my recent favs:

Springsioux, Paris – the raddest up and coming rock n’ roll Parisian brand. They’ve got badass jewelry, tees and accessories and also carry some incredibly unique pieces from young designers from across Europe. They have a dreamy shop in Le Marais and hold events at least once a week, which usually either includes champagne or Caesars! WHERE: 4e arrondissement.

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The Kooples, Paris – you may have heard of this shop before. @Offner first introduced me to the brand last year. They have such beautiful pieces. I love the entire concept behind the store… Now if only I had more money!! WHERE: There are shops located pretty much in every arrondissements in Paris and shops also in Lyon.

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Les Galeries Lafayette, Paris – a classic if you’re in Paris. Basically, it’s like an enormous Holt Renfrew that carries the most high end brands and that is always beautifully decorated all year round! WHERE: 9e arrondissement

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American Retro, Paris – a super rad shop that carries edgy fashion pieces that are usually very colorful. They’re trendy with a twist. WHERE: There are a few different shops in Paris.

Auchan, Lyon – you won’t really find any clothes there but it’s my favorite spot to buy groceries!! They have such a HUGE selection of fresh products, cheese, vegetarian options, cookies, etc. Each time I go to the store, I want to buy everything! Think of a Costco with lot’s more fresh products and selection and a lot cheaper!! @Offner even found a friend there!! WHERE: everywhere in France!

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Where to eat

Let’s be honest, France has probably the most amazing food EVERYWHERE, so here are just some of places I liked on this past trip:

Tata Burger, Paris – they’ve got the biggest burger made to look like a penis! Yup! The food and atmosphere is pretty wild and super fun! WHERE: 4e arrondissement

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LA Favorite, Paris – very trendy and beautiful looking bistro in the 4e arrondissement. They had the best vin chaud! Yummy salads and desserts! WHERE: 4e arrondissement

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Casa San Pablo, Paris – a Spanish tapas restaurant that’s incredibly cheap and super yummy! Loved the traditional decor. WHERE: located in the 4e arrondissement, right by the Place Sainte-Catherine.

L’épicerie, Lyon – My favorite spot for lunch or for the “goûter”, they’ve got the best tartines and homemade desserts. Yum, I can almost still taste it in my mouth! WHERE: Bellecour, on the presqu’île.

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Pique-Nique en ville, Lyon – A super small and quaint restaurant that serves a great “formule midi”, otherwise known as an appetizer, main and dessert at a fixed price, which is very common throughout France. Absolutely loved their pasta and wine selection. WHERE: Presqu’île

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Abel, Lyon – one of the oldest bistros in the city that was founded in 1928. The place is also called a “bouchon Lyonnais”, which is a place where they serve traditional Lyonnais food, including the Quenelle, etc. WHERE: Presqu’île

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Le Cellier, Les 2 Alpes – For the best “montagnard” food, ie. the food of the mountains, the specialty in that area. They serve an amazing tartiflette, raclette, gratin de crozets, fondue, grilled meats, etc! I love their traditional ski chalet type decorations!

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Crêperie, Bretagne – While you’re in the region, you’ll want to order a freshly made sweet crêpe or even a savoury crêpe otherwise known as a “galette de sarrasin” usually filled with veggies, cheese and or meat, accompanied by a “bolée de cidre“. You’ll also want to order a “Flan Breton” or “Far Breton” to get an authentic dessert. They are so delicious and buttery! WHERE: There are crêperies located in every small town in Bretagne and are all equally tasty.

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Paul – a chain of patisseries that serve all sorts of yummy goodness! They’re now even located at rest areas on the highway and in train stations, they’re like the tim hortons of France but without all the chemicals and crap in their food. They serve salads, sandwiches, quiche, desserts, yummy drinks, etc. WHERE: Anywhere in France

Any patisserie or boulangerie in the area you will be staying will serve you amazing fresh bread, pastries and cakes. The perfect and cheapest place to have breakfast in the morning!

Also, I highly recommend getting cheese from the weekly market or some of the amazing local shops that always feature cheese made from the region. You can get great quality cheese for very cheap and encourage local producers.

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If you like macarons (for some reason, I just can’t get into them!), you’ll want to stop by Pierre Hermé, the best macarons in Paris! WHERE: Several locations across the city.

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*NOTE*: If you’re a vegetarian like me, I hope you like cheese, bread, pastries and salad because as I’m sure you know, a lot of the French cuisine revolves around meat. So you’ll need to find substitutes to meat for your meals. Even when you ask for a vegetarian salad or sandwich, from experience, they have the reflex of offering you fish or seafood. That said, you can survive! I’ve never eaten so much and so well in my life as I have in France!

Well there you have it! Hope this travel post was insightful! Let me know if you have any food or shopping recommendations for my next trip to France!

Writing this blog makes me miss France even more!! Can’t wait to return!

Twenty Valley Winter WineFest

This weekend the Twenty Valley Winter WineFest was being held in the Niagara region, one of many wine-related activities happening in the area this month. It’s an absolutely fabulous month for fans of wine, food, cheese and the speciality of the season: Icewine!

I was really excited to make it down to Jordan Village, located just an hour away from Toronto. This quaint little village in the Niagara region is super easy to get to. Though the temperature wasn’t ideal (it rained most of the day!), everyone had big smiles on and were excited to be there. Not only was it free admission but the event also had free parking for everyone and a shuttle service going from to and from the event.

I received a very warm welcome from organizers when I arrived. I was given a beautiful wine glass for all of my tastings as well as some tokens for food and wine. The event was very well set up: there was a tent for their cooking demos (Chuck Hughes from Chuck’s Day Off and Danny Smiles from Top Chef Canada!!) as well as a tent for all the wine and food sampling. They also had a bunch of food trucks (yay!) parked on the main street, a few vendor tents as well as a big main stage in the middle of the street where would be held all the live entertainment.

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I started my day by watching the welcome presentation on stage, which was immediately followed by a cute fashion show of local retailers. I loved the fact that everyone was all about promoting the shops around the area.

Not long after, the cooking demo featuring chef Danny Smiles began. Being a fan of Top Chef and all of The Food Network shows, I was stoked to see his presentation. He was super friendly and funny, he made everyone laugh and have a good time during his 1 hr demo. He was also gracious enough to pose for photos with fans before and after his demo.

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I then headed into the main tent to use some of my tokens (tokens could be bought for $3.25 each and could be used during the entire weekend to claim food or wine samples). Inside the main tent, 30 + premium wineries from the area had brought some whites, reds, sparkling and icewines for tasting. What I loved was also the food pairings that were being offered by some of the top Niagara area restaurants. It was great to see all the local producers having such pleasure explaining their wines to everyone in the tent. I loved hearing about all of the winemakers’ history, process and stories. They were even kind enough to give us little cards for free wine tasting and tours at their wineries.

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I was thrilled to see that the food and wine tent was packed pretty much all day long! Some of my favorite food was the Wellington Court Restaurant and Catering Truffle Parmesan and Lemon Arancini, Spicy Tomato Fondue and Kale Pesto as well as the Sticky Toffee Pudding and Sticky Bun dessert. Everything was absolutely delicious! It’d be hard to pick my favorite wine of the day but I did very much like the 2010 Mountainview Pinot Noir from Angels Gate Winery and the GreenLane Estates Winery 2008 Riesling Icewine.

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What was great about the festival was also all the musical guests they had. All day long, they had good bands (Hollerado, Treble Charger, etc!) on stage who performed either classic covers or their own original material. People braved the rain to go sing and dance with them. Fire pits had been installed in the street to keep people warm, a nice little touch!

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Though I did miss the barrel roll out competition and the Steamwhistle After-Party, I had an amazing day at the Twenty Valley Winter WineFest.

In you’re looking for something to do next weekend, the 18th Annual Niagara Icewine Festival continues with a handful of other activities and events. For more information, go here. Events will be taking place until January 26th

 

 

Weekend Getaway in Williamsburg

A few weeks ago, I took Offner for a weekend birthday trip to Williamsburg. Though we’ve both been going to NYC quite a bit lately, we tried checking out a bunch of new places on this trip.

 

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We flew with Porter Airlines, which is always the most convenient when coming from downtown Toronto. There is never a line up at customs when you arrive in Newark and it’s conveniently located by a train station that brings you directly to Penn Station. For $13, you can get from the airport to downtown NYC using the free terminal airlink train and NJ Transit. The train comes every 15 minutes and even more often if traveling during rush hour. It’s only a three-stop ride. By using the train, you will avoid all traffic and paying tolls to get into the city.

 

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From Penn Station, we took the J train all the way to Williamsburg where we were staying for this trip. I had rented a cosy little apartment on South 8th Street through airbnb. Not only was the place super well located, the apartment was very affordable, more than any hotel we could have gotten in the area. So far, I’ve only had really positive experiences with airbnb and it’s really changed the way I travel. Though we didn’t make use of it on this trip, having a kitchen or even a patio is always fun when you’re staying somewhere for a longer period of time!

 

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We spent lot’s of time walking around Williamsburg during the weekend. Here are a few of our discoveries:

 

East River Ferry: this is a super fun way to get from Williamsburg to Manhattan. The ferry comes approximately each half an hour and can take you to midtown or downtown. Not only is it pretty quick, it’s also a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful skyline and sights of Manhattan, Williamsburg bridge, Brooklyn, etc. A one-way ticket is $4 and a day pass is $12.

 

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Free outdoor shows: while strolling around Williamsburg, we found a super huge outdoor stage right by the water and at the Williamsburg park. Though the concert series is over for the rest of the year, there’s no doubt that it will be back next spring. So many amazing acts were playing this year including: The Shins, Odd Future, New Order, HIM & a ton more! This wasn’t the only free show going on that weekend, there was also a free metal and beer festival happening by the waterfront and a Noisey/VICE Bonfire Session show.

 

Kristophe: on Saturday morning we were looking for a place to have brunch and like we sometimes do, we walked around to find a spot that looked cool. We found Kristophe, which had a super neat interior – looked like an old wine cave and a very cute back patio. Being out there, you couldn’t imagine that you’re just a few minutes from Manhattan because it was so quiet and luscious. They started by offering us a complimentary mimosa glass. They had a varied menu with gluten free and vegetarian options. I opted for one of their crepes that was filled with fresh market cheese and homemade jam. The atmosphere was quaint and the food was super filling. The perfect way to start the day!

 

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Williamsburg Antique Mall: we found this great antique flea shop in what looked like an old garage while on our morning stroll. Though the place is a total mess, they had so many neat vintage pieces. We brought back two American collector jars at $3 a pop – one with Apollo 14 (as a kid, i met Edgar Mitchell, one of the astronauts on Apollo 14!) and the other of John F Kennedy.

 

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Patrizia’s Pizza & Pasta: for our last meal of the weekend, we found a family-run Italian restaurant that served the biggest pasta and pizza plates I’ve ever seen. The restaurant was loud and festive, packed with families, just as you’d imagine a family dinner at your nona’s house would be. The thing that stood out from the restaurant was that everyone seemed to be having the best time! I opted for a house salad and homemade pizza and Offner got some shrimp. The food was very comforting and tasty.

 

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We also spent some time in Manhattan. We went to visit his cousin at Spin, the ultra-hip ping pong club located on East 23rd Street, a club that is partly owned by Susan Sarandon. As expected the place was packed and they were holding their usual Friday night tournaments, which are always fun to watch.

 

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Though we didn’t have nearly as much time as we wanted to walk around everywhere, here are some of our favorite things from the island:

 

Gallow Green: I took Offner there as part of his gift for his birthday. I chose the spot because it was rated the most romantic restaurant in the city. The restaurant is located on the beautiful McKittrick Hotel rooftop on the west side. The rooftop is decorated with many plants, flowers, flag and little lights. All the staff is dressed as if they’re working on farms back in the day. The night we went, they also had a jazz band playing. We got there a little early so we took at custom drink at the bar. The bar menu was really delicious and original. We then were given a table right in front of the jazz band. The menu consisted in a whole bunch of fresh, organic and delectable plates to share. I opted for a cheese platter, marinated vegetables and a quiche while Offner had a plate of different meats. The food was absolute perfection and surprisingly not as costly as I had imagined.

 

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The Highline: We walked on the Highline to get to Gallow Green. It was my first time taking a walk on this beautiful structure. What a great idea to put a passageway above the city and fill it with plants and trees. I loved the architecture of it, the idea of putting benches and grass around everywhere. The view of the city was spectacular! Though we only did it at night, I’m sure the view is just as fascinating during the day.

 

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VEDA: They’re a really small boutique company from New York City that make all sorts of rad leather products. They recently collaborated with Pamela Love on a series of colorful and unique leather jackets. They also have some of the best leather pants. VEDA just opened up their first shop on Mercer St. in Soho. Their shop is small but super quaint.

 

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Modern Vice: the first day we got to NYC, we stopped by the Modern Vice factory to meet the brand’s founder Jordan and his girlfriend, blogger/model Natalie Suarez (check out her super cool fashion blog here) and to also get a pair of Modern Vice’s dreamy boots. They graciously took the time to show us around their factory. So impressive to see everyone working so hard, making handmade boots. I had never really seen that before. The phone kept ringing every few seconds but Jordan and Natalie made sure we were well taken care of! So excited to have gotten a pair of Camo Jetts. Can’t wait to receive them!!

 

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Apotheke: Located in a small nook in Chinatown, this super trendy basement bar definitely has the coolest concept. Apparently the place used to be an old pharmacy so they retained that concept and serve “prescriptions” instead of drinks while wearing white lab coats. All of their “prescriptions” are made from local, organic produce picked from local markets or straight from their rooftop herb garden. Their drink menu is perfection! Every drink was so creative and uber tasty! (photo credit: Apotheke’s website)

 

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We had a super early flight back at the crack of dawn on Monday morning. If it hadn’t been so early we would have opted for the train route but we decided to see how long it would take by cab. The disadvantage of staying in Williamsburg and flying out of Newark is that it is far. A closer airport would have definitely been LaGuardia but because everything else is so convenient when flying with Porter, we still thought it was worth it in end. The money we saved by not taking a cab to and from Pearson Airport, we were able to get a cab from Williamsburg at 4am. Note that the cab ride from Williamsburg to EWR should cost you around $72 US. I recommend calling in advance and making sure you have a fixed price and calling a Williamsburg-based cab company. The cab drivers also prefer cash.

 

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Another fun weekend getaway in the books! We’re thinking of doing a museum-themed weekend next time we go. There are just so many different museums to see and we always get caught up in other things so we never actually make the time to go. Can’t wait to go back! 🙂

This Week’s Pottage

A new week means a new pottage… at least that’s what it’s meant since we’ve been getting our Fresh City Farms baskets. This week’s pottage is my best one yet (that’s a good thing I guess since I’ve only ever made two 😛 Improvement is good!).

For this week’s pottage I used cabbage, green onions, cauliflower and beets. I never really measure anything when making pottage, I just eyeball it.

I let all the veggies boil in water for 20mins or so. I also added a cube of organic vegetable broth to add a bit of flavor as well as salt and pepper.

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Once everything has boiled, I blend everything up using my hand mixer. I also add a bit of almond milk, dijon mustard and my secret ingredient: maple syrup! Yup! Plus it’s from my family’s sugar shack, so there’s nothing better 🙂 I find that the maple syrup cuts the bitterness and the milk and dijon make the pottage more of a velvety texture.

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Et voilà! Bon appétit!

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Fall Pumpkin

Last week, two small pumpkins came in our Fresh City Farms bag and just like the concord grapes, I had never cooked anything with pumpkins before. Growing up, I saw my mom make pumpkin pie but had never really been interested in making anything with pumpkin because it always looked so complicated.

After looking at a few different recipes (thank god for Martha Stewart sometimes!), I got inspired to make my own pumpkin dishes.

The first recipe I made was a pumpkin, roasted garlic, beemster cheese, concord grape, tomato, avocado and cantaloupe salad. It really took no time to make. The only kind of preparation it took, was cutting up the pumpkin in small cubes and placing them on a cookie sheet. I drizzled a bit of cumin, maple syrup, olive oil and salt and pepper on them. I also added a few fresh garlic cloves on the cookie sheet to bake with the pumpkin. I cooked the pumpkin in the oven for 40mins at 350F, I kept adding water throughout so that the pumpkin didn’t dry up. When it got nice and mushy, I took it out of the oven and peeled off the skin.

For the dressing, I just mixed freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil and dijon mustard. Contrary to what I was expecting, the pumpkin tasted really soft and sweet. It was delish!

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For the second pumpkin recipe, I made a pumpkin and tofu stir-fry with the left over pumpkin I cooked for the salad. I pan fried cubes of tofu, added pineapple pieces, garlic, pumpkin cubes as well as sweet and sour sauce. I cooked everything in the pan until nicely roasted and then placed it on a bed of fresh kale. I was also surprised by how amazing it tasted!

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With the leftover seeds I had from the pumpkin, I put them on a cookie sheet, drizzled a bit of olive oil on them and spices and baked them in the oven at 350F for 15-20mins. They were the perfect lunch snack for the next day!!

There you have it! Some quick and easy pumpkin recipes. What have you made with pumpkin this fall?

 

Concord Grape Spread

Last week we received our first Fresh City Farms local fruit and veggie bag. I challenged myself to use every single item they gave us, even if the bag contained some items I had never cooked with before.

One of these items was Concorde Grapes. I opted to try a grape spread to serve with cheese as an appetizer on the weekend. It’s super easy to make!

All you need is a big handful of grapes, rosemary, olive oil, sugar and salt.

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Rinse the grapes and then place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle 2 teaspoon of olive oil over the grapes. Add a pinch of sea salt and 1 teaspoon of rosemary on the grapes. Also add 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar over the grapes to cut the bitterness.

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Place grapes in the oven and cook at 400F for 15-20 minutes or until grapes burst. Once they’ve cooled off you can place them in a bowl.

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I opted to serve the grape spread with blue cheese on whole wheat toast but they can be served with burrata cheese, compté or any type of cheese you like. The strong taste of blue cheese fit perfectly with the sweetness of the grapes! It was a succulant appetizer to kick off a Saturday night meal. Hope you’ll enjoy 🙂

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Asian Squash Recipe

The other night Offner came home with what he thought was pumpkin but turns out it was Asian Squash. I had never made anything with Asian squash or squash in general so I took it upon myself to find a way to make it.

I looked up a few recipes but ended up mixing a bunch of them together to create my own. Surprisingly, it turned out great!

Here’s what I did:

I pre-heated the oven at 350 degrees.

I cut up the squash in small 2 inch slices and put them on a baking sheet. I lightly drizzled 0live oil over them, added a bunch of different spices (salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thym) and also drizzle a bit of natural maple syrup (I put maple syrup in pretty much everything I make ;)) on top.

I then baked the squash for roughly 40mins, basically until they were soft.

Another super healthy snack idea or good vegetable to accompany any meal.

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